September 28, 2012
searchingforknowledge:

theinebriatedfangirl:

amstibovvered:

cougardraven:

amstibovvered:

glennrieck:

amstibovvered:

okay so we’re gonna talk about all the reasons that using this as an image for othello is embarrassingly ignorant of the play’s theme’s overall.
othello is a play about racism. RACISM. it doesn’t matter what shakespeare’s personal beliefs were or what he potentially thought of race issues. what matters is that his intent was to write about race culture, and he did so in a way that very specifically dictates the problems therein. 
iago is a racist. his anger and his hatred of othello stem from his inability to handle the concept that someone “lesser” than he can receive more power. iago’s actions seek to disenfranchise othello as a person and as a professional, so it can be proven that his differences make him less than.
to use this image to encompass all of othello is to deny the fact that desdemona’s death is circumstantial to the greater themes. othello is not a play about a black monster man killing his lily-white wife. which is what this image suggests entirely. othello is a play about the ways in which societal attitudes towards racial differences contribute to dysfunctionality and violence. without race, the play would not exist. othello is driven to take appalling actions because a man wants to undo him. this man’s goal is to reveal that othello isn’t worth what everyone claims he is. he means to belittle a man’s character using manipulation that has its essence rooted in bigoted jealousy.
it’s incredibly dangerous to make desdemona the victim in this light. yes, she is a victim, very definitely. but she is a victim of greater hate, and i cannot deal with the fact that this photo entirely dismisses any discussion of how these characters were brought to this place. it’s horrendously oversimplified, and quite honestly disrespectful to a crucially detailed story about race politics and the ways in which they sway our actions. 
desdemona is definitely victimized. but you know what? so is othello. don’t villainize him with his hands around a white woman’s neck before he’s even properly introduced as a character with a great deal of sensitivity and compassion, whose failing is in his eagerness to feel the betrayal he expects. desdemona and othello are both pawns in a much larger scope. please don’t forget that. 
reblogging this because my queue didn’t post my commentary the first time around. 

What is overlooked here is in Othello, as in every work of Shakespeare’s, the themes and meaning are highly subjective. Is it about racism? To an extent. Is the main theme racism? Who knows.
What is known is that Iago’s motives weren’t likely race. He makes comments of Othello being a Moor, yes, but does he ever care about the Othello having a rank higher than him? No, he cares that Cassio is the higher rank. That CASSIO is Othello’s second in command, while Iago believes he clearly deserves that. 
If anything, most interpretations posit that it’s not about racism, but jealousy. In the sense that Iago is jealous of not just Cassio, but Desdemona. It’s a common interpretation that Iago is gay for Othello, of which there’s considerably more support in the text for than just Iago hating Othello’s high rank.
You have some good points above, about the image and unfair villainization of both Othello and Desdemona. What you don’t have a good point on is race. Race IS a big issue, but the play would still exist without it. Race was merely one tool of many Iago used to his advantage. In the end, no matter what motivation Iago has, it’s still all about Jealousy. Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.
And please do keep in mind, Moor does not automatically equal Black. It equals Spanish Muslim. Were many dark? Very. But you must take care not to generalize, especially on a group as varied as the one called the Moors. Though I grant Othello certainly was dark skinned (well, unless that line was just general insult against how most Moors are very dark skinned, regardless of Othello himself, but that’s unlikely).

okay, but you’re wrong. 
and it’s a friday night and i’ve got nothing to do. 
and i come armed.
 

What is overlooked here is in Othello, as in every work of Shakespeare’s, the themes and meaning are highly subjective. Is it about racism? To an extent. Is the main theme racism? Who knows.

on the contrary, shakespeare’s plays were entirely thematic. that was how drama was constructed in his day and age. stories were told and retold through different lenses and voices, but they all focused on broad, relatable moral issues because theatre was something for everyone to see, and therefore theatre needed to appeal to those of all classes. it’s true that the concept of race in shakespeare’s day and age is not what it would be today, but that doesn’t deny the inherent rootedness of this play in what it means to be an ethnic minority. they didn’t have words like “racism” to define it, but the definition of racism (“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”) itself is absolutely unarguable as being consistently present in the text. 

What is known is that Iago’s motives weren’t likely race. He makes comments of Othello being a Moor, yes, but does he ever care about the Othello having a rank higher than him? No, he cares that Cassio is the higher rank. That CASSIO is Othello’s second in command, while Iago believes he clearly deserves that.

this is a vague analysis of something much more intricate. contrary to your argument, iago uses race as a tool in most of his dismantling of othello’s honor. let’s observe the details. othello is a general, of a higher rank than both iago or cassio. othello makes the decision to promote cassio as opposed to iago. if iago cared that much about cassio having the position, he’d have spent the entire play trying to prove that cassio was unfit for the job. but no, his motives rise higher, and what would have been jealousy towards cassio is transformed into hatred for his superior officer.
here are some words that someone else wrote that i agree with:

This seems to be the only reason for Iago to detest Othello, but his anger stretches beyond this into personal attacks. Iago refers to Othello’s “thick-lips” (I.i.66) and to him as “an old black ram” (I.i.88-89). His hatred may have started on a professional level, but in part due to Othello’s heritage, Iago’s contempt quickly deteriorates to racism. This brings about a reoccurring paradox in Othello. While an extremely powerful man in a political context, his race makes him inferior in a white man’s society. Iago is able to trick his master and manipulate him on a consistent basis.(source) 

he says it. it’s right there. “i hate the moor.” not “i hate my boss”, not “i hate the general”, not even “i hate othello”. “i hate the moor” (i.3.386). his immediate identifier for othello is that which makes him entirely different than any other character in this play— his race. what this tells us is that, although iago has other reasons to hate othello, his understanding of this human extends no further than the color of his skin. and in his first steps to sabotage othello’s life, by telling desdemona’s father that his daughter’s about to marry a man of color, let’s look fully at the language he uses:

what a full fortune does the thick-lips oweif he can carry’t thus!(roderigo, i.1.65-66)


even now, now, very now, an old black ramis tupping your white ewe. arise, sarise!awake the snorting citizens with the bell,or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.(iago, i.1.87-90)

…you’ll have your daughter covered with a barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and jennets for germans.(iago, i.1.109-112)in case you didn’t catch that, he is literally comparing a man of color to an animal. 
…that your fair daughter,at this odd-even and dull watch o th’night,transported, with no worse nor better guardbut with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,to the gross clasps of a lascivious moor…your daughter, if you have not given her leave,i say again, hath made a gross revolt,tying her duty, beauty, wits, and fortunesin and extravagant and wheeling stranger…(roderigo, i.1.120-134) 
(obvious racial epithets bolded for your convenience!)
not to MENTION the fact that desdemona’s father and his constituents immediately jump to the conclusion that this exotic savage has bewitched his daughter. do you think that conclusion would have been made were he white? he has to spend pages proving his worth as a husband to brabantio before he’s literally declared not a threat. 

If anything, most interpretations posit that it’s not about racism, but jealousy. In the sense that Iago is jealous of not just Cassio, but Desdemona. It’s a common interpretation that Iago is gay for Othello, of which there’s considerably more support in the text for than just Iago hating Othello’s high rank.

i’d argue that jealousy emerges from base hatred, which is racism. and no matter whether or not iago is gay for othello (which… please, by all means, show me), he certainly does pay a lot of attention to the fact that his background is alien.  

You have some good points above, about the image and unfair villainization of both Othello and Desdemona. What you don’t have a good point on is race. Race IS a big issue, but the play would still exist without it. Race was merely one tool of many Iago used to his advantage. In the end, no matter what motivation Iago has, it’s still all about Jealousy. Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.

i bolded what you said above, because it’s an argument i’ve heard before and quite frankly, it’s bullshit. without race, the play would fall the fuck apart. let’s examine what happens once iago begins implementing his plan to sabotage othello by convincing him that his wife is cheating on him with cassio! othello has an entire segment of the play devoted to the fact that his “good name” is what keeps him safe. his “honor” is what prevents him from losing everything he has had to strive to achieve. he is a proven war hero who is consistently fixated on how he measures up to those around him, even those not his equals. where does this lack of self-worth come from, the same lack of self-worth that allows him to believe in iago’s deception? from the same fight that every member of a minority group has to encounter every day to convince themselves they’re worth the same kind of humanity as those in positions of greater privilege. 

my name, that was as freshas dian’s visage, is now begrimed and blackas mine own face.(iii.3.441-443)

othello, enraged at the very idea that desdemona is cuckolding him, states essentially that, to him, name and honor are associated with a white face, and it is because his reputation is so strong that he’s been allowed to circumvent his race. besmirching his honor makes him the low savage that his physicality represents. 
throughout the play, iago consistently refers to him as “the devil”, not only playing along with a historical belief of the time that the devil was dark-skinned, but also equating othello’s origin with inherent evilness and sin. 

“and, noble signior,if virtue no delighted beauty lack,your son-in-law is far more fair than black.”(the duke, i.3.283-285)

this not only indicates othello’s skin color, but uses the word “fair” to imply just and honorable, therefore positing the idea that othello’s worth more than just his race. which pretty much points out that race, and “overcoming a dark past” is the driving force behind this play. 
why is othello so afraid of desdemona’s infidelity? because in addition to being his love, she helps him gain status. their marriage allows him and the rest of society to embrace the idea that his life is on par with the rest of the venetian citizens. with her supposed sleeping around, he loses his honor as a cuckold, and that would undo him entirely. he’s placed his fate partially in the hands of someone who could effectively destroy it. iago plays into this weakness without question. 
and here’s an interesting quote from paul robeson, one of the first ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE to play othello ever (even a play about racism can’t escape whitewashing):

“in the venice of that time [othello] was in practically the same position as a coloured man in america today [1930]. he was a general, and while he could be valuable as a fighter he was tolerated, just as a negro who could save new york from a disaster would become a great man overnight. so soon, however, as othello wanted a white woman, desdemona, everything was changed, just as new york would be indignant if their coloured man married a white woman.”

not entirely indicative of the play’s emphasis on race, but definitely explains its societal relevance AS BEING ABOUT RACE.

Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.

no. if i haven’t done enough to explain why you’re wrong already, go do your own research. but iago spends an entire 5-act tragedy making use of the weaknesses a person could only gain by being an outsider, a minority, an oppressed person, in order to bring out their “savage within”. he drives him to unreasonable action, othello kills his wife and othello’s redemption? is suicide. don’t you dare tell me this play would be the same without race. 
i’m not even gonna bother with your explaining away of what it means to be a moor, because it’s just fucking irrelevant, as well as a blatant erasure of racial problems no matter what “kind” of poc you are. 

#don’t fucking argue this shit with me 
AHAHAHAH no I don’t think that’ll work for me.
although to be honest I really just stopped caring about what you said at “you’re wrong”. I appreciate a bit of discourse now and again, but really, what you’re doing is taking something which has legitimate debate and saying the effect of “LOL NO I AM CORRECT AND ANY ATTEMPT TO DISAGREE WITH ME WILL BE MET WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE”. Get off your fucking high horse.
Honestly I couldn’t give a shit who’s “right” here, because arguing about the motivations of people who lived and died half a millennium ago is as useful as discussing what color undergarments the Founding Fathers worse.
And let’s be clear: I have never seen someone respond to a reasoned argument with such active attempts at stabbing themselves in the foot. I am almost impressed. Amused at your relative ignorance. But impressed.

lol really
k

haha
oh my god
amstibovvered destroyed this chick, everyone.

LOLZ. This chick couldn’t deal with the truth, taken DIRECTLY FROM THE TEXT, rained down on her idiot, denying ass  so she resorted to tone policing and claiming ignorance. Amstibovvered,  I wish I could send you the beverage of your choice.  That idiot needs to siddown.

searchingforknowledge:

theinebriatedfangirl:

amstibovvered:

cougardraven:

amstibovvered:

glennrieck:

amstibovvered:

okay so we’re gonna talk about all the reasons that using this as an image for othello is embarrassingly ignorant of the play’s theme’s overall.

othello is a play about racism. RACISM. it doesn’t matter what shakespeare’s personal beliefs were or what he potentially thought of race issues. what matters is that his intent was to write about race culture, and he did so in a way that very specifically dictates the problems therein. 

iago is a racist. his anger and his hatred of othello stem from his inability to handle the concept that someone “lesser” than he can receive more power. iago’s actions seek to disenfranchise othello as a person and as a professional, so it can be proven that his differences make him less than.

to use this image to encompass all of othello is to deny the fact that desdemona’s death is circumstantial to the greater themes. othello is not a play about a black monster man killing his lily-white wife. which is what this image suggests entirely. othello is a play about the ways in which societal attitudes towards racial differences contribute to dysfunctionality and violence. without race, the play would not exist. othello is driven to take appalling actions because a man wants to undo him. this man’s goal is to reveal that othello isn’t worth what everyone claims he is. he means to belittle a man’s character using manipulation that has its essence rooted in bigoted jealousy.

it’s incredibly dangerous to make desdemona the victim in this light. yes, she is a victim, very definitely. but she is a victim of greater hate, and i cannot deal with the fact that this photo entirely dismisses any discussion of how these characters were brought to this place. it’s horrendously oversimplified, and quite honestly disrespectful to a crucially detailed story about race politics and the ways in which they sway our actions. 

desdemona is definitely victimized. but you know what? so is othello. don’t villainize him with his hands around a white woman’s neck before he’s even properly introduced as a character with a great deal of sensitivity and compassion, whose failing is in his eagerness to feel the betrayal he expects. desdemona and othello are both pawns in a much larger scope. please don’t forget that. 

reblogging this because my queue didn’t post my commentary the first time around. 

What is overlooked here is in Othello, as in every work of Shakespeare’s, the themes and meaning are highly subjective. Is it about racism? To an extent. Is the main theme racism? Who knows.

What is known is that Iago’s motives weren’t likely race. He makes comments of Othello being a Moor, yes, but does he ever care about the Othello having a rank higher than him? No, he cares that Cassio is the higher rank. That CASSIO is Othello’s second in command, while Iago believes he clearly deserves that. 

If anything, most interpretations posit that it’s not about racism, but jealousy. In the sense that Iago is jealous of not just Cassio, but Desdemona. It’s a common interpretation that Iago is gay for Othello, of which there’s considerably more support in the text for than just Iago hating Othello’s high rank.

You have some good points above, about the image and unfair villainization of both Othello and Desdemona. What you don’t have a good point on is race. Race IS a big issue, but the play would still exist without it. Race was merely one tool of many Iago used to his advantage. In the end, no matter what motivation Iago has, it’s still all about Jealousy. Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.

And please do keep in mind, Moor does not automatically equal Black. It equals Spanish Muslim. Were many dark? Very. But you must take care not to generalize, especially on a group as varied as the one called the Moors. Though I grant Othello certainly was dark skinned (well, unless that line was just general insult against how most Moors are very dark skinned, regardless of Othello himself, but that’s unlikely).

okay, but you’re wrong. 

and it’s a friday night and i’ve got nothing to do. 

and i come armed.

 

What is overlooked here is in Othello, as in every work of Shakespeare’s, the themes and meaning are highly subjective. Is it about racism? To an extent. Is the main theme racism? Who knows.

on the contrary, shakespeare’s plays were entirely thematic. that was how drama was constructed in his day and age. stories were told and retold through different lenses and voices, but they all focused on broad, relatable moral issues because theatre was something for everyone to see, and therefore theatre needed to appeal to those of all classes. it’s true that the concept of race in shakespeare’s day and age is not what it would be today, but that doesn’t deny the inherent rootedness of this play in what it means to be an ethnic minority. they didn’t have words like “racism” to define it, but the definition of racism (“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”) itself is absolutely unarguable as being consistently present in the text. 

What is known is that Iago’s motives weren’t likely race. He makes comments of Othello being a Moor, yes, but does he ever care about the Othello having a rank higher than him? No, he cares that Cassio is the higher rank. That CASSIO is Othello’s second in command, while Iago believes he clearly deserves that.

this is a vague analysis of something much more intricate. contrary to your argument, iago uses race as a tool in most of his dismantling of othello’s honor. let’s observe the details. othello is a general, of a higher rank than both iago or cassio. othello makes the decision to promote cassio as opposed to iago. if iago cared that much about cassio having the position, he’d have spent the entire play trying to prove that cassio was unfit for the job. but no, his motives rise higher, and what would have been jealousy towards cassio is transformed into hatred for his superior officer.

here are some words that someone else wrote that i agree with:

This seems to be the only reason for Iago to detest Othello, but his anger stretches beyond this into personal attacks. Iago refers to Othello’s “thick-lips” (I.i.66) and to him as “an old black ram” (I.i.88-89). His hatred may have started on a professional level, but in part due to Othello’s heritage, Iago’s contempt quickly deteriorates to racism. This brings about a reoccurring paradox in Othello. While an extremely powerful man in a political context, his race makes him inferior in a white man’s society. Iago is able to trick his master and manipulate him on a consistent basis.
(source

he says it. it’s right there. “i hate the moor.” not “i hate my boss”, not “i hate the general”, not even “i hate othello”. “i hate the moor” (i.3.386). his immediate identifier for othello is that which makes him entirely different than any other character in this play— his race. what this tells us is that, although iago has other reasons to hate othello, his understanding of this human extends no further than the color of his skin. and in his first steps to sabotage othello’s life, by telling desdemona’s father that his daughter’s about to marry a man of color, let’s look fully at the language he uses:

what a full fortune does the thick-lips owe
if he can carry’t thus!
(roderigo, i.1.65-66)

even now, now, very now, an old black ram
is tupping your white ewe. arise, sarise!
awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
(iago, i.1.87-90)

…you’ll have your daughter covered with a barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and jennets for germans.
(iago, i.1.109-112)
in case you didn’t catch that, he is literally comparing a man of color to an animal
…that your fair daughter,
at this odd-even and dull watch o th’night,
transported, with no worse nor better guard
but with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,
to the gross clasps of a lascivious moor
your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
i say again, hath made a gross revolt,
tying her duty, beauty, wits, and fortunes
in and extravagant and wheeling stranger…
(roderigo, i.1.120-134) 

(obvious racial epithets bolded for your convenience!)

not to MENTION the fact that desdemona’s father and his constituents immediately jump to the conclusion that this exotic savage has bewitched his daughter. do you think that conclusion would have been made were he white? he has to spend pages proving his worth as a husband to brabantio before he’s literally declared not a threat. 

If anything, most interpretations posit that it’s not about racism, but jealousy. In the sense that Iago is jealous of not just Cassio, but Desdemona. It’s a common interpretation that Iago is gay for Othello, of which there’s considerably more support in the text for than just Iago hating Othello’s high rank.

i’d argue that jealousy emerges from base hatred, which is racism. and no matter whether or not iago is gay for othello (which… please, by all means, show me), he certainly does pay a lot of attention to the fact that his background is alien.  

You have some good points above, about the image and unfair villainization of both Othello and Desdemona. What you don’t have a good point on is race. Race IS a big issue, but the play would still exist without it. Race was merely one tool of many Iago used to his advantage. In the end, no matter what motivation Iago has, it’s still all about Jealousy. Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.

i bolded what you said above, because it’s an argument i’ve heard before and quite frankly, it’s bullshit. without race, the play would fall the fuck apart. let’s examine what happens once iago begins implementing his plan to sabotage othello by convincing him that his wife is cheating on him with cassio! othello has an entire segment of the play devoted to the fact that his “good name” is what keeps him safe. his “honor” is what prevents him from losing everything he has had to strive to achieve. he is a proven war hero who is consistently fixated on how he measures up to those around him, even those not his equals. where does this lack of self-worth come from, the same lack of self-worth that allows him to believe in iago’s deception? from the same fight that every member of a minority group has to encounter every day to convince themselves they’re worth the same kind of humanity as those in positions of greater privilege. 

my name, that was as fresh
as dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black
as mine own face.
(iii.3.441-443)

othello, enraged at the very idea that desdemona is cuckolding him, states essentially that, to him, name and honor are associated with a white face, and it is because his reputation is so strong that he’s been allowed to circumvent his race. besmirching his honor makes him the low savage that his physicality represents. 

throughout the play, iago consistently refers to him as “the devil”, not only playing along with a historical belief of the time that the devil was dark-skinned, but also equating othello’s origin with inherent evilness and sin. 

“and, noble signior,
if virtue no delighted beauty lack,
your son-in-law is far more fair than black.”
(the duke, i
.3.283-285)

this not only indicates othello’s skin color, but uses the word “fair” to imply just and honorable, therefore positing the idea that othello’s worth more than just his race. which pretty much points out that race, and “overcoming a dark past” is the driving force behind this play. 

why is othello so afraid of desdemona’s infidelity? because in addition to being his love, she helps him gain status. their marriage allows him and the rest of society to embrace the idea that his life is on par with the rest of the venetian citizens. with her supposed sleeping around, he loses his honor as a cuckold, and that would undo him entirely. he’s placed his fate partially in the hands of someone who could effectively destroy it. iago plays into this weakness without question. 

and here’s an interesting quote from paul robeson, one of the first ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE to play othello ever (even a play about racism can’t escape whitewashing):

“in the venice of that time [othello] was in practically the same position as a coloured man in america today [1930]. he was a general, and while he could be valuable as a fighter he was tolerated, just as a negro who could save new york from a disaster would become a great man overnight. so soon, however, as othello wanted a white woman, desdemona, everything was changed, just as new york would be indignant if their coloured man married a white woman.”

not entirely indicative of the play’s emphasis on race, but definitely explains its societal relevance AS BEING ABOUT RACE.

Even is Othello was Venetian born, that’d only alter a few parts and the play would appear not too different.

no. if i haven’t done enough to explain why you’re wrong already, go do your own research. but iago spends an entire 5-act tragedy making use of the weaknesses a person could only gain by being an outsider, a minority, an oppressed person, in order to bring out their “savage within”. he drives him to unreasonable action, othello kills his wife and othello’s redemption? is suicide. don’t you dare tell me this play would be the same without race. 

i’m not even gonna bother with your explaining away of what it means to be a moor, because it’s just fucking irrelevant, as well as a blatant erasure of racial problems no matter what “kind” of poc you are. 

#don’t fucking argue this shit with me 

AHAHAHAH no I don’t think that’ll work for me.

although to be honest I really just stopped caring about what you said at “you’re wrong”. I appreciate a bit of discourse now and again, but really, what you’re doing is taking something which has legitimate debate and saying the effect of “LOL NO I AM CORRECT AND ANY ATTEMPT TO DISAGREE WITH ME WILL BE MET WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE”. Get off your fucking high horse.

Honestly I couldn’t give a shit who’s “right” here, because arguing about the motivations of people who lived and died half a millennium ago is as useful as discussing what color undergarments the Founding Fathers worse.

And let’s be clear: I have never seen someone respond to a reasoned argument with such active attempts at stabbing themselves in the foot. I am almost impressed. Amused at your relative ignorance. But impressed.

lol really

k

haha

oh my god

amstibovvered destroyed this chick, everyone.

LOLZ. This chick couldn’t deal with the truth, taken DIRECTLY FROM THE TEXT, rained down on her idiot, denying ass  so she resorted to tone policing and claiming ignorance. Amstibovvered,  I wish I could send you the beverage of your choice.  That idiot needs to siddown.

(via black-culture)

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